Indians Willing To Trade Cliff Lee?

FRIDAY: Talking to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, here's Indians GM Mark Shapiro on trading Lee:

"I'm not even thinking about that.  My focus is on us having a contending season and Cliff having a great season. I think the two go hand-in-hand."

Lee's agent Darek Braunecker says "right now it's just sheer speculation."

THURSDAY: Danny Knobler of wrote about Indians starter Cliff Lee a few days ago.  The article includes speculation from rival executives:

Multiple officials familiar with the Indians said this week that they wouldn't be at all surprised to see Lee get traded if the Indians fall far out of the race, just as C.C. Sabathia was dealt away when Cleveland fell out of it last year.  "I think they'd love to trade him," one of the officials said.

The Indians were in last place, 13.5 games out, when they traded Sabathia to the Brewers on July 6th of last year.  They finished in third place, 7.5 games out.

Lee, 30, has a 5.25 ERA this year through four starts but pitched well in his last two starts.  He has yet to show last year's otherworldly control and 46% groundball rate.  At $5.75MM this year with a $9MM club option for 2010, Lee would be attractive on the trade market even if he's pitching like a middle-rotation guy.

Back in March, the Indians decided not to negotiate an extension with the Cy Young winner due to the economy.  Said Lee:

"They said they can't do it become of the economy.  I'd like to spend the rest of my career here. I would have loved to get that out of the way. But I can't force that to happen."

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